Celebrating women behind the wheel

Did you know only 1% of the UK’s 315,000 lorry drivers are women? It’s an alarming statistic, particularly amid a national driver shortage.

We need more women in other industry roles too, such as transport management, with only 20% of total jobs in road transport currently taken up by females.

It’s a statistic that needs to improve. We need truckers, as they deliver everything that we rely on in our daily lives.

For National Lorry Week we speak to HGV drivers Lucy, Gabrielle and Jodi, about their reasons for joining the road transport industry and what they enjoy most about their day jobs.

Lucy

Lucy Leatham works for David Stacey near Shepton Mallet in Somerset. She travels 1 hour 45 minutes to get to work every week from her home in north Devon. She works Sunday through to Friday delivering cement type products on the back of a flatbed lorry.

When asked about how she started in the industry, Lucy said: “I did my rigid licence at 21 as I couldn’t trust my mum to drive our new horsebox! I liked driving anyway and it went from there.

“My dad funded my licence, I did a week course and passed first time. I then funded my C+E, did a three-day course and failed it twice before passing third time with another firm in a lorry and drag with two minors.

When asked about what she enjoys most about her job, Lucy said: “I really enjoy the freedom of being able to work under my own initiative and visiting new places. I would say it works for me and I love it, so if you are contemplating it, you should definitely give it a go.”

“I think my career highlight has been delivering staging equipment to festivals, especially when I got to go to Ireland for the first time on a ferry.”

Gabrielle

Gabrielle Smith used to work for Millfield Haulage based in York, North Yorkshire and will be moving back into haulage once her daughter can go into childcare. Like many people in our industry, Gabrielle was introduced to trucking through her family.

“I chose to become a lorry driver because it’s in my blood. My mother and father are both HGV drivers, as was my grandad. I grew up in my mother’s wagon, travelled with her in a car seat, she was even still breastfeeding me in the wagon and I hardly spent any time at home. I knew at an early age that I wanted to be a driver.

“Once I had left school, I applied for my Class 2, did a bit of work for Millfield Haulage, got given Class 1 tests for my 19th birthday and passed first time. I was excited to crack on. For my first job the artic was loaded with bricks for five building sites across Stoke city centre, it was brilliant.

“I enjoy that every day is different. You get to work, sort your wagon out, get your load sorted then the day is yours. You are your own boss once you hit the road, responsible for your own breaks, rest stops and route planning.

“I love being in charge of a 44-tonne truck, the camaraderie of fellow truck drivers and taking time to relax and enjoy your time off with your truck driver mates. It’s no office job, the people you meet around the country, the places you go to – it’s exciting!

“It’s been great to meet my mum out on the road, we met up in Newart Truck Stop and had breakfast together with our trucks parked next to each other, it was so surreal. I now take my one-year-old little girl to see her grandma’s truck (which is pink) and she absolutely loves it!”

Jodi

Jodi Smith recently appeared on ITV’s This Morning to speak about her love for lorry driving. She currently works for JMS Powered Access based in Radlett near St Albans, collecting and delivering heavy machinery such as scissor lifts, cherry pickers and forklifts around London.

Jodi became a lorry driver by chance, first taking her tests in order to drive a horse box. She’d previously worked for a haulage company in another role but didn’t really have any interest in becoming a driver until a photo on shared on Facebook of Jodi driving a three and a half tonne car transporter landed her an interview at a local haulage firm.

She said: “I enjoy the freedom of my job, I’m on my own with my music, it’s very independent. I just enjoy being on my own and doing my own thing. There’s someone on the end of the phone if I ever need help.

“I’m not sat in an office staring at four walls, I’m constantly moving, meeting different people, seeing different places, different scenery. It’s not backbreaking work either, it depends what kind of job you choose but mine’s not backbreaking, it’s nice work.

When asked what she would say to encourage other women to take up driving, Jodi said: “I would say to other women to not let the stereotypes make them think they can’t drive a lorry. There’s no reason why a woman can’t drive a lorry.

“I think people just need to see it more. The more women they see doing it the more normal it becomes, and then more women will realise. A lot of women see me loading the lorry and I’ll sit and have a chat with them. If I can do it with a full set of acrylics, I’m sure any woman can.

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A post shared by jodi smith (@pinktrucker90)

Interested?

If you’re interested in becoming a lorry driver like Lucy, Gabrielle and Jodi, or would like to discuss your options, our team can talk you through what is required and offer free, expert advice on training, testing and more, to help you make a start in your career. Contact us via email at: becomeadriver@rha.uk.net or call on: 01514 596 230.

You can also check out our driver competition taking place during National Lorry Week where we’ll be putting one lucky winner through their driver training courses for free!